A name change signifies a major life event, and an experienced family lawyer can navigate this legal process for you. The most common name change occurs when a wife resumes her maiden name after a divorce. These name changes are routine and simply require testimony at the final divorce hearing. Changing an adult or child’s name unrelated to divorce requires a more complicated procedure.
Adult Name Change
An adult name change requires a petition in family court stating why you seek a name change. The petition must also include:
1. A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) fingerprint and background check;
2. A SLED screening statement affirming you are not on the SLED sex offender registry;
3. A Department of Social Services (DSS) screening statement affirming you are not listed on the DSS Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect;
4. An affidavit stating you were never convicted of a crime under a name other than the name in which you are changing; and
5. An affidavit stating whether you are under a court order to pay child support or alimony.
Once you obtain your fingerprints at the Sheriff’s Department, our office will handle the rest. We will process all paperwork, file your lawsuit correctly, and stand with you at a final hearing.
Child Name Change
Either parent may file a petition to change a child’s name, but both parents must be parties to the lawsuit. The only exceptions occur if a parent’s parental rights are terminated or a parent is deceased. A guardian ad litem (GAL) must be appointed in every case. The GAL will be the “eyes and ears of the court” to determine whether the name change is in the “best interest of the child.” To determine the “best interest of the child,” the court considers following factors:
1. The length of time that the child has used the present surname;
2. The effect of the change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent;
3. The identification of the child as part of a family unit;
4. The wishes of the parents;
5. The stated reason for the proposed change
6. The motive of the parents and the possibility that the use of a different name will cause insecurity or a lack of identity;
7. The difficulty, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience when the child bears a surname different from the custodial parent;
8. The preference of the child if the child is of an age and maturity to express a meaningful preference; and
9. The degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed surname.
Be prepared to pay additional fees for a GAL for the time the guardian spends interviewing the children and parents as well as time in court.
As Spartanburg attorneys we are prepared to help you. If you wish to have a name change or would like to contest the name change of a child, contact our office today.